Suzanne L. Bissonette, JD
Chief Executive Officer
Sue Bissonette has a long and storied career with Cazenovia Recovery, as she’s been with us since 1996. Under her leadership, the agency has grown substantially. We only operated four programs when she started, but we’ve expanded to nine today. “I’m proud of how the agency and its services have grown,” she noted.
Her foresight and guidance have played a major role in the agency’s successes these last few years, from opening innovative programs, to prioritizing housing, and especially in assuming the operations of numerous programs from struggling providers. Since assuming the operations of these programs, we’ve become a major provider in Niagara County, and we’re delivering services in new and exciting ways. Sue’s always remained at the forefront of the field and consistently prepares the agency for future changes.
Through all of our growth, Sue knows how important our staff are to the agency’s success. “The staff really are one of the best parts about my job,” she said. “We all work really hard together,” she said.
Sue holds a Juris Doctorate from the University at Buffalo, and has a bachelor’s in Community and Human Services from Empire State College.
Director of Operations
Eileen oversees our operations teams, which includes human resources, maintenance, property management, and information technology. She has an extensive history of providing effective and results-oriented leadership to nonprofit organizations throughout Western New York. Her accomplishments are exactly why Cazenovia Recovery Systems brought her on board in 2016.
Since joining our team, Eileen has managed major transitions and projects at our programs, along with positive administrative and technology developments. She does this by being responsive and by promoting empowering partnerships between administration and our programs. ““We really have strong connections,” she said. “There’s so much talent here.”
Eileen has bachelors’ degrees in Political Science and American Studies from Oswego and a master’s in Public Administration from the Nelson E. Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy.
Andrea Ocasio, Advanced CASAC
Director of Clinical Services
Andrea has been with Cazenovia Recovery since 2010 has over 20 years of experience in behavioral health. Today, she oversees the operations of our Rehabilitation and Reintegration programs. Andrea also ensures that the best possible clinical services are being provided throughout the agency. Our success over the last few years can be attributed to the decisive role Andrea has played. Through her leadership, our programs have adapted well in demanding times.
Gratitude is a major value that Andrea promotes in her work. As such, she is grateful for the dedicated work of our staff. Their unyielding support for our residents has made Cazenovia Recovery what it is today. “We have a great reputation because we do so much and we’re thorough,” said Andrea.
Andrea has a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Buffalo State and an associate’s degree in Substance Use Counseling from Erie Community College. She is an Advanced Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor (CASAC) and is certified in trauma counseling.
Director of Grants and Contracts
Ken has spent his entire eighteen-year career providing housing and related services to communities in Western New York that need the most support. “Housing is everything,” he said. “If you don’t have a place to live, it’s hard to focus on recovery, finding work, and other important things.”
Due to his vast experience, Ken currently provides oversight of Cazenovia Recovery’s housing programs. He’s also primarily responsible for our grant processes and managing contracts with federal, state, local, and other funders. This includes regular reporting, performance measuring, data review, quality improvement assessments, and more.
Ken has a master’s degree in History from the University at Buffalo, and is visibly passionate about civil rights and public service. “If we help the people in our programs thrive, our whole community thrives,” he said. A native Western New Yorker, he currently resides in the city of Buffalo with his wife and two daughters.
Jay A. Swarthout, LMHC
Director of Managed Care Services
Jay directs managed care, medical services, compliance, and intake operations throughout the agency. In turn, he’s responsible for diversifying our funding and developing strong relationships with managed care providers. “This is a huge challenge but also a very valuable opportunity,” he said. Not only does Jay believe this to be a beneficial development for the agency, it is also an exciting one. “We have a lot of talent on a number of levels that are working on this,” he said.
Thanks to Jay’s considerable experience, our agency is well-suited to adapt to the changes coming our way. His background includes extensive experience as a clinician, administrator, educator, trainer, and program and system developer in working with individuals with trauma, criminal justice, developmental disability, and co-occurring mental health and substance use disorder issues.
Jay joined Cazenovia Recovery in 2017. He has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from SUNY Fredonia and is a NYS-Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC). He is also Adjunct Faculty at the University at Buffalo School of Social Work, Vice President of the Board of Directors for Restoration Society, Inc. and a therapist with Give an Hour, a grassroots, volunteer veterans’ project. Jay has been recognized by Erie/Niagara NAMI, the Mental Health Association of Erie County, and the Western New York Chemical Dependency Consortium for his community contributions and service.
Claudia oversees the financial activity of the entire agency while ensuring the quality and accuracy of the financial department. This is no easy task, considering how much Cazenovia Recovery has grown recently. We have a wide range of funders who all have different requirements. This requires a delicate balance and focus. In an era of shrinking resources for nonprofits and social services, this can certainly be a challenge. Thankfully, Claudia recognizes this and states that “we learn how to do it better every day.”
She’s been with us since 2015, and his been witness to most of our major financial growth. Claudia is inspired by her staff in the finance department. According to her, each of her staff “feels strongly about helping residents on the road to recovery.”
Claudia has a bachelor’s in Business Management & Economics from Empire State College with a major in Accounting.
Director of Marketing & Communications
Ed oversees all aspects of the agency’s communications and marketing. He joined the Cazenovia Recovery team in 2014, and built the agency’s marketing efforts from the ground-up. Not only that, he successfully managed our recent rebranding process. “I’m proud that our new brand demonstrates the strength of our agency while reflecting the vibrancy of people with substance use disorders,” he said.
Likewise, he’s passionate about telling uplifting stories throughout the nonprofit sector, and has ten years of experience with local nonprofits. “The community needs to know about the life-saving work we’re doing every single day,” he added.
Ed has a bachelor’s degree in Art from the University at Buffalo and a master’s degree in International Relations from Webster University.
We brought Angela on board in 2013 to manage Liberty Hall, our former program in Batavia for homeless veterans. She quickly became such a valuable part of our team that she began overseeing other programs throughout the agency, as well. In 2018, she became our reintegration manager and now manages the operations of our Reintegration programs.
“Reintegration is so important,” Angela said. It’s a critical point in the journey to independence for people with substance use disorders. Typically, residents begin looking for jobs or start going back to school during this period in their recovery. “When people have things to look forward to and be proud of, they’re much more successful,” she said.
Angela has fifteen years of experience in behavioral health and holds a bachelor’s degree in Community & Human Services with a concentration in Counseling from Empire State College. She is also a Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor (CASAC).
Food Services Manager
In 2018, we hired Jane Gajewski as our food services manager. She has extensive experience in food service for nonprofits and large-scale residential facilities. In fact, she helped another nonprofit in the area develop their standardized menu from scratch. Now, she’s doing the same for us.
Jane manages our food service specialists and facility assistants. In addition, she’s integrating food service and nutrition across the agency in a way that promotes health and wellness for our residents. Jane has been in the food service industry for over 35 years and is enthusiastic about offering healthier options to the people we support.
She recognizes that we have a wonderful opportunity to teach our residents healthier eating habits. “I believe it will make them more successful once they walk out the door,” she said. “At the end of the day, knowing that food service played a part in the recovery process is very rewarding.”
Jane has dual associates’ degrees in Dietetic Technology and Food Service Management from Erie Community College.
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